Last updated January 12, 2017 by Lisa Richards, CNC

What Are Candida Biofilms?

Candida albicans and its biofilms

We often think of microbes as single cells that can be easily targeted by drugs, alternative medicine or our own immune systems. However, the reality is much more complicated. Many of these pathogens have evolved remarkably sophisticated ways to evade our best efforts at treatment.

Some of you may have heard of biofilms, especially if you’re familiar with Lyme Disease, and how they can protect pathogenic microorganisms from your immune system. Biofilms are structures that are formed naturally by many bacteria and fungi. They can make conditions like urinary tract infections, ear infections, and Candida overgrowth much more difficult to treat.

Today I’m going to explain what biofilms are, how they are used by Candida albicans, and exactly what they mean for your Candida treatment.

What Are Biofilms?

The traditional way of looking at a microorganism was to examine it in a laboratory. Various antibiotics, antifungals and other treatments could then be applied, and the results collated and shared. However, as effective as this methodology can be, it does not take into account what happens when large numbers of those microorganisms group together in the human body.

Research over the past 10-20 years has started to show that microorganisms behave very differently when grouped together. In fact, some treatments that might work very well on a single cell can be complete failures against a large, well-established population. In many cases, this is because of biofilms.

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A biofilm is a polysaccharide matrix that acts as a protective structure for the microorganism. In effect, the pathogen can hide within it. By producing a biofilm, the microorganism creates a shield to protect itself from whatever your doctor and immune system can throw at it.

Biofilms can exist both inside and outside the body. Sometimes they can even be useful (there are a number of industrial applications), but for the most part they are bad news. Much of the research has looked at Candida biofilms on items like prosthetic heart valves, intravenous catheters, and hip replacements. However, biofilms are also part of the development of many clinical infections that develop in our bodies.

Candida albicans is the most common fungal biofilm found in hospitals, but it is also extremely difficult to treat. One study looked at the effectiveness of a group of antifungals (including prescription antifungals like Nystatin and Diflucan) against Candida biofilms. Researchers found that the antifungals were initially effective against Candida, but as the biofilm developed they became less and less effective. After 72 hours of biofilm development, the “C. albicans cells were highly resistant,” leading them to conclude that “drug resistance develops over time, coincident with biofilm maturation.” Other studies refer to “a near-total resistance to antifungal agents by biofilm-associated Candida.”

What are these biofilms made of? Well, another study found Candida biofilms to be comprised of 32% glucose. So Candida needs sugar not just to grow and reproduce, but also to create the biofilm that protects it from your immune system.

Breaking A Candida Biofilm

There is no simple way to destroy a Candida biofilm in your gut. For the most part biofilms do exactly what they are designed to do – protect the Candida albicans cells from your immune system. There is no magic pill we can take to eliminate a Candida biofilm. It takes time and application.

Biofilms are one of the main reasons why a Candida overgrowth is so hard to beat. A longstanding Candida overgrowth has had plenty of time to create biofilms in your gut, and (as I’ve shown above) these are very resistant to many of the treatments we can throw at them. The longer the biofilm has had to develop, the more resistant it will be to antifungal treatments.

This is why using antifungal drugs alone is often not enough to beat a Candida overgrowth. We need to adopt several different strategies. Our Candida treatment plan, the Ultimate Candida Diet, uses several different elements to fight Candida. These include antifungals, probiotics, and a low-sugar diet. We also discuss the use of systemic enzymes, such as lumbrokinase, which have been shown to break down biofilms such as those created by Lyme, Candida, and other infections. Adding these systemic enzymes to your treatment can make your probiotics and antifungal therapies much more effective.

Used alone, these strategies will likely fail. But used together, they can be highly effective. The antifungals destroy the cell walls of the Candida; the enzymes break down the biofilms; the probiotics support your immune system and regulate the acidity in your gut; and the low-sugar diet deprives the Candida of the resources that it needs to grow. This combination of treatments is much more effective than using a single strategy.

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Comments

  1. Nick says:

    Hi Lisa good to get updates on the Candida albicans bio films @ how to treat them, this whole candida problem, especially earlier on when I didn’t understand it @ how to combat it was driving me crazy with the toxin [email protected] anxiety problems, thank you for your help.

    1. Birdy says:

      How did you treat yours? I’m new to this still doing research I haven’t been able to find a naturopathic doctor just yet but I’m desperate at this point so I went to natural foods and bought some things that I thought might help with the help of the store clerk. I need advice because she told me that I am magnesium deficient and gave me magnesium supplements for my anxiety it’s in the form of a powder you can put in water. I also have Candida support intestinal health supplements it has Pau D’Arco, oregano oil, black walnut, and caprylic acid in it, other ingredients contain (cellulose for the capsule, garlic bulb, olive leaf, cat’s claw root, wormwood herb, silica, magnesium stearate, and cellulose power). Fem dophilus probiotic capsules with just lactobacillus rhannosus, GR-1, lactobacillus reuteri, RC-14 plus other added ingredients like (dextrose and anhydrate potato starch cellulose and magnesium stearate) (capsules consists of gelatin and titanium dioxide) also Dairy casing in trace amounts, virgin olive oil, vegetarian fruitein high protein energy shake rainbow from Nature plus. It has a vast amount of ingredients as well as multivitamins including magnesium 200 milligram which is 50% of the product. Did I make the right choices?? I’m so clueless and in need of serious help I feel like this is killing me! I started experiencing severe symptoms almost instantly started off with anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve had a fungal infection on my skin for some years now and recurring yeast infections and UTIs treated with antibiotics some left untreated sometimes because I was so focused on my mental health I thought I was going crazy last year I was admitted into the hospital and then again this year a few weeks ago for chronic panic attacks I feel like my body is shutting down every morning I wake up with severe heart palpitations feeling faint dizzy basically feel like I’m dying I connected My reoccurring infections and fungus with my anxiety a couple days ago on Google and found candida. And when I seen the systematic symptoms I completely freaked out! Is it too late for me? Am i dying?! I need help!! Please I need advice because it’s been difficult trying to find a doctor that takes government insurance I don’t think anyone does on a naturopathic/holistic level in my state. I will do anything to get better as long as I don’t have to feel this way anymore its ruining my life and I believe it’s killing me and in a rapid pace. Also I’m a hundred and seventeen pounds I’ve always been super skinny I’m 5’9 27 and I have been dealing with reoccurring yeast infections UTI and fungal skin infection since I was about 17 is there any hope for me. I pray everyday for answers

      1. kt says:

        Hi Birdy. I hope you are improving. Felt compelled to write when I saw your post. I stumbled across this site looking for some research for my Dad. I battled and won my fight with candida some years ago, it was a long road with a naturopath but there are more answers and resources on the internet now I think you absolutely can do it yourself – and YOU will get well. I just wanted to wish you all the best in your recovery. X

      2. gregg Dutcher says:

        Get serrapeptase by doctor’s best 40000 spu dose it 3 capsules 2 or 3 times daily. Then another good attack is Biofase. It is an all around candida killer! Bit pricey….but totally worth it! Try very hard to eliminate sugar,…except try buying a natural , no artificial anything, beet juice,…read or listen to Robert Von Sarbacher on YouTube about his mini beet protocol! And, Olive Leaf Extract is powerful fungal killer too. Also, check out information on Berberine hcl, it too is a powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antifungal!

      3. Mandi says:

        Birdy, I have had very similar issues. There is hope for you!! Don’t despair. Your Candida (which probably has a biofilm) is running interference for the other ailments you are trying to cure. Kill the candida, and you can kill a uti (and others)… For good! I have been plagued with chronic, antibiotic resistant uti’s and have been clearing my body of so much candida/biofilm and things have gotten SO much better. Good luck!

      4. Matt Smith says:

        I’d say change your diet to allow the least amount of sugar in your system. I just started my diet a week and a half ago and i am struggling to keep up with it but i need/want to get better. I’m taking probiotics by pill and through Activia yogurts and I’m seeing small improvements but not where i feel comfortable. I will add you to my prayer list . I hope you start to see results soon .

      5. Lori says:

        Hi Birdy, Have you ever heard of prime tea from the book called The Prime: Prepare and Repair Your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss by Kulreet Chaudhary. It worked great for me. The books at Amazon and the tea it’s made from seeds. You boil and drink it every day. It took me a month of drinking it but it did the trick. It also made my good bacteria thrive, my taste buds changed, and I was craving salads and greens. It has 3 little ingredients in it. Coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds. That’s just the beginning of the book. It has more great advice and recipes to help with all the junk that comes with this horrible affliction. The woman who wrote it is a neurologist. I hope you try it. Its soothing. I still use it on a part time basis.

    2. David says:

      This is one of the most important pages on this website! It needs its own category/button, not hidden in an article.

      I’d really like to thank the creator of this website for helping me start to understand what has likely been making me so sick.

      It has encouraged me to use Google Scholar to find academic research on biofilms (there’s A TON, anti-biofilm medication is a future billion dollar industry). Something tells me that yeast and biofilms are the next “trend”. These biofilms are nasty and from the research, nearly impossible to eradicate. Candida infections have a 15-35% mortality rate, and while I’m assuming this is people in a hospital setting this is still a very scary fact. At anytime someone can be hospitalized/injured and having candida overgrowth significantly raises your chances of complications or death.

      I’ve been telling a lot of people about Candida, and it’s typically greeted with “oh that’s not my problem” despite 50-60% of people having Candida overgrowth. It’s one of those things that people just cant wrap their heads around.

      Some things that I’m trying that may not be on this site: (no guarantees on these, just trying to help others who are suffering like me)

      – Coriander (works on biofilm according to 2015 study)
      – Diatomaceous Earth (Food grade DE only, there are other kinds that are used as nontoxic-to-humans insect killer, check out a picture of it under microscope, it is claimed that it tears tiny holes in the yeast cells and I’m hoping that it will act as a “scrub brush” for this extremely stubborn biofilm that your candida is hiding in)
      – Bentonite Clay
      – pH test strips (to test the pH of my saliva – candida biofilms are in your mouth too grown by acidity..another tip here is to monitor oral biofilms)
      – Cayenne pepper
      – Bioflavonoids seem to interrupt the ability of cells to communicate with each other, called Quorum-Sensing (this is how the cells know its time to advance to form a biofilm)
      – Xylitol the sweetener seems to be an anti-biofilm
      – Aspirin (Salicylates) interfere with the biofilm matrix
      – Iron
      – Bismuth (Pepto Bismol)
      – EDTA Chelation (I likely won’t be trying this due to cost and it seems questionable)
      – Food Grade Charcoal
      – Baking Soda (Planning to eat it too but it an awesome oral anti-biofilm with immediate effects)
      – Serrapeptase supplements
      – Ludol’s Enema and a Liver Flush
      – Kefir Enema

      1. Julia says:

        No medication should be taken during candida treatment.The antibiotics is root cause of the candida in first place.No sugar,no calcium,no bread or dairy products should be taken during the course.

      2. Fabi says:

        I think I have this infection It became worse after 3 rounds of antibiotics from UTI infections. Now it makes sense. I kept telling doctor that my problems got worse after antibiotics, in fact my mouth area burst out with fever blisters from so much acidity in my stomach.

        1. Lee says:

          The amino acid, L-Lysine for fever blisters; also, colds, flus, chicken pox, shingles; 4X500mg, twice daily. Twice/day for maintenance.

      3. Fabi says:

        I think I have this infection It became worse after 3 rounds of antibiotics from UTI infections. Now it makes sense. I kept telling doctor that my problems got worse after antibiotics, in fact my mouth area burst out with fever blisters from so much acidity in my stomach. My GI doctor told me there was NO way I had a fungal infection. I got an endoscopy and colonoscopy and all was clear. He would not test me for fungal infection or offered a stool test.

  2. Beth says:

    There are also supplements that can help to break down biofilms. Ideally, these are taken 20-30 minutes before taking antifungals. Some common biofilm disruptors are nattokinase, serrapeptase, lumbrokinase, N-acetylcysteine, selenium and lactoferrin. There are also blends such as Klaire Labs Interfase Plus.

    1. chae says:

      Anything that sounds like a chemical or pharmaceutical scares me to death! 🙁

      1. Joanna says:

        @ Chae I think that the last 3 ( N-acetylcysteine, selenium and lactoferrin) are amino acid, mineral and amino acid or enzyme, hence, natural. I was taking lactoferrin separately for immune system but it seamed to be not working. Never took it half an hour prior to anti-fungals though.

        @ Beth Do you have any links to research studies that have found it?

        1. Kerry says:

          Cool! Check it out:
          http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajidm/2/5/5/

          N-acetyl cysteine is also known as NAC, one of the supplements Lisa recommended for the protocol. Already on it… BAM! I know this is an old post, but I’m hoping someone else might benefit from looking at the literature. Way to be a boss, Lisa.

          1. Rosie Beth says:

            How much NAC do you use? Thanks.

          2. Rosie Beth says:

            Sorry….used with Nystatin ok?

  3. jen says:

    I realized I had a candida overgrowth six months ago when repeated UTI’s became almost constant. It was wreaking havoc with my relationship and was detrimental to my self-esteem.
    I read as much as I could find on the subject, trying to take into consideration all the different approaches in the varied information out there and started implementing changes in my diet. Lisa’s book was the most informative and comprehensive I found; thorough, easy to understand and educational. Once I understood the impact those little microbes had on my system it was a serious effort to clean myself up.
    After about two months things were mostly better and I started adding things back into my diet. I wouldn’t say my candida overgrowth is 100% gone, but I no longer need to take the anti-fungals every day and I can have a little of some of the forbidden foods from time to time. I no longer eat trigger foods and don’t think I ever will. I feel so much better and now have the knowledge and understanding of how to deal with this life changing overgrowth if it ever reappears again.
    Thank you, Lisa, for the best information I could find anywhere.

    1. Thanks Jen, I’m really glad to hear that you found my program useful 🙂

  4. sandra says:

    Lisa, I have been on the Candida Diet for a month. I think things are improving. My situation is that I have Leaky Gut which I began to treat before I became aware that the candida was causing the Leaky Gut. How do I know when the overgrowth of Candida is cured and then begin to treat the Leaky Gut. The diets for each are totally different. I hope you can shed some light on this situation. Thanks

  5. Kerry says:

    I found out 3 years ago that I had candida overgrowth – I had been struggling with weight, health and anxiety issues. I had been given a constant stream of antibiotics from the age of 3 months old, coupled with a high sugar diet left me very large, depressed and incredibly unhealthy. After starting a low sugar diet I lost alot of weight and reigned in my sugar addiction but have never been able to put anything back into my diet due to an immediate reaction (I am now 40) After reading your updates – I now understand what is happening, I take grapefruit seed extract, good pro biotics and keep within a very strict guideline for my diet. Its been a long road and an even longer one stretching out in front of me – but I am more positive and have an understanding – thank you.

  6. Cynthia says:

    I am now in my 47th day of Candida Diet and am feeling great! I wanted to know if I can now take food supplements and vitamins? can it go together with the treatment? I will be eagerly waiting for your reply. Thanks and more power!

    1. Yes you certainly can! Just make sure that you read the ingredients carefully and check that there is nothing that might worsen your Candida.

  7. Cynthia says:

    I would like to add that I also have diabetes and this might be the big factor why I had a candida overgrowth. I don’t want to stop with the diet since it has helped me a lot and I know that am not completely healed yet, besides, I have lots of recipes to make the diet attractive. Thanks again. . .

  8. sarah says:

    I find that it takes 4 weeks of eating sugar to create a candida problem, and just 2 times of deep fried food, even a week apart, to get candida

    1. Kerry says:

      I’ve been doing some research on the significance of high fat intake on the inhibition of proper insulin function (which basically means your blood sugar stays high longer than it should after a meal and feeds candida). Pretty interesting stuff. May explain the fried food problems!

  9. Jennifer says:

    I have found some very useful information on this website and I would like to try the diet. Please can you tell me if the diet plan caters for vegetarians?

    1. Yes it certainly does! You need to make some small adjustments to ensure that you are getting enough protein, but it can definitely be followed by vegetarians.

  10. konstantina says:

    I believe this is the most interesting and informative update about candida and why it can not be easily eliminated.I just have one question. Are these biofilms destroyed by natural antifungals like oregano oil,caprylic acid etc..? Or are the natural antifungals making the biofilms resistant as well?looking forward for your answer!!

    1. Natural antifungals can destroy biofilms given enough time, but they are much more effective when combined with a low sugar diet and probiotics.

      1. Jetti says:

        What probiotic should be used to help restore the good bacteria and eradicated candida? Pls advise

        1. Lisa Richards says:

          Hi Jetti, you can see the probiotics that I recommend here.

  11. Brooke Milo says:

    Hi Lisa,
    All your information is so helpful. I’ve been dealing with Candida for the past 15 years and it has slowly gotten worse. The past year I have been on different prescription antifungals along with herbal antifungals and a very restrictive candida diet. My blood work has shown no change in my yeast levels, chronic, acute or GI systemic. Very upsetting but I’m not giving up. I had just recently read about biofilm on Candida just before your article came out. I’m not sure of the safety but due to frustrations I have started taking 3 drops of Tea Tree essential oil in a pint glass of water each day. I have also started 2 drops of clove and 2 of lemongrass essential oils because I found research that showed them to be effective with removing biofilm. Have you come across this in your research.
    Thanks

    1. Both clove and lemongrass have antifungal properties, however you don’t mention probiotics – adding some good quality probiotics will make your treatment much more effective!

  12. Jennifer says:

    I have been left feeling worse off after being prescribed about eight different types of antibiotics (amongst other medicines) over the past two years! If only I had known the effects before taking them! I am slowly changing my diet to prepare for the Candida Diet but I haven’t started the plan yet. I have now been prescribed Itraconazole although I have not been tested for any condition. The leaflet shows this medicine has lots of side effects. Do you think it is a good idea to take it? I am worried about the effects it may have on my cells and liver. Maybe it would be ok to take it once I have started the diet? Please can I have some advice?

  13. Corinne says:

    I’ve have been dealing with candida systemic infections since 2008 after using antibiotic. I felt horrible! It was left untreated for MONTHS. Until I went to an ENT who then put the scope up my nose and down my throat and said my throat was covered in geen mold from yeast. Has severe pain on right side of neck. He gave me a script for Nystain and the main symptoms went away but I’ve had nasal drip for 8 years since. Also I could not drink wine or alcohol without my knees burning had bloating after eating even the smallest meal, could not lose weight no matter how long I exercised. So since then I recently had another flare up of margarine, burning mouth, cracked skin on corners of mouth, brain fog, can’t remember anything, ear pain/pressure, in and out of the ER 4 times because the pain on the right side of neck moved to soft palette (above in my sinus) after being prescribed diluflican. I’m thinking that initial neck pain which felt as though it was my jugular vain may have been a biofilm attached. Then the anti fungal medicine (diluflican) made it move to the sinuses? I’m not sure but since then I still feel a lump in soft palette. I had 2 CT scans and an MRI and it shows nothing. I’m afraid to take more diluflican as I’m worried where else can this lump move to? Can the biofilm move to my brain? I’ve been on yeast diet for 2 weeks now and it helps with ear pain and migraine. You can not cheat! I made a mistake and ate a piece of cantaloupe and started right back at square one. Immediately the symptoms came back. My advise to anyone suffering for extreme yeast flare up is start with nystatin or diluflican ( Fluconazole ) you can buy it online at Fludan.com. (Canadian pharmacy) I’m in the US and it’s not available w/o prescription here. Start with those meds and continue on the yeast doet for as long as you can then slowly start to add foods back. I’m just starting to feel normal again.

  14. Tanya says:

    I think the anti-candida diet is a very good place to start off if you are experiencing all the “candida overgrowth” symptoms but if you’re finding it isn’t helping you I would definitely look into getting your blood tested for things like Rickettsia, Microplasma, Chlamydia-Pneumonia, Lymes, Babesia, Bartonella and Bilharzia. These are all parasites caused by ticks, fleas and mites. My brother has been dealing with a few of these for about 5 years and has really bad brain-fog, chronic fatigue and many other symptoms. Maybe this can help some of you. Also have just discovered upon biofilms and are hoping to get rid of these in his body so that the parasites can actually be attacked.

  15. Jesus saves says:

    I’m so glad I found this site. When I share with my husband my symptoms he thinks I’m loosing it! For me the die off symptoms have been very intense, my liver seems to have a hard time processing all the toxins. I pray each and everyone of you recover fully and quickly from this pest 😔 I remind my self to keep a positive mindset thru this journey. God bless you all.

    1. Hopeseeker says:

      Ditto! I just had mesh removed and now the overgrowth of candida is horrible. Inflammation is 7000! I feel so tired and my liver is also having a hard time. I believe God had me find this site. Not sure if you tried this or not, but I’d love to hear from you how you are better! 🙂

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